A witch is a woman in possession of power. To some, the witch is a figure to fear; to others, she’s one of empowerment. She is the healer, the medicine woman, the bruja, the Mother, the crafty Instagrammer. There’s a reason there are so many books about witches, many more than the in this list.
We read about the wicked witch of fairy tale, and then perhaps the teen witch who bumbles with newfound power, and then the mysterious but alluring adult witch. In my insatiable search for books about witches, I’ve become fascinated by the many shapes the witch takes in fiction, and the intersections of thought about what it means to be a witch. In reading works on a topic as ubiquitous as “the witch,” where she’s represented in a multitude of cultures, sometimes under a different moniker, often not, the commonalities one witch shares with her sisters of lore and reality across the sea never fail to surprise me. As interesting are the differences in the story of the witch. You can learn a lot about how women are viewed across time and place by way of these witch stories.
I’m obsessed with books about witches and witchcraft not only because I secretly want to fly a broomstick, but because I most enjoy reading books about women in possession of power (whether or not they wield it expertly) and society’s response to them. That’s not to say men are stricken from the definition of witch. That’s also not to say I can’t enjoy boy or man witch fiction. But it is to say I’m far more attached to Hermione than Harry.
Now, the read can be troubling because the woman identified as a witch–as “other”–has been persecuted throughout history, or it can be a dazzling delight because MAGIC. And it is because the witch is a powerful character as complex and shifting as familiar that we will thankfully never run out of material or cause for diverse stories about these bewitching characters.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are of the best books about witches.
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Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones: “SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH. When the note, written in ordinary blue ballpoint, appears between two of the homework books Mr Crossley is marking, he is very upset. For this is Larwood House, a school for witch-orphans, where witchcraft is utterly forbidden. And yet, suddenly magic is breaking out all over the place–like measles! The last thing anybody needs is a visit from the Divisional Inquisitor. If only Chrestomanci could come and sort out all the trouble!”
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya: “Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima enters his life. She is a curandera, one who heals with herbs and magic. ‘We cannot let her live her last days in loneliness,’ says Antonio’s mother. ‘It is not the way of our people,’ agrees his father. And so Ultima comes to live with Antonio’s family in New Mexico. Soon Tony will journey to the threshold of manhood. Always, Ultima watches over him. She graces him with the courage to face childhood bigotry, diabolical possession, the moral collapse of his brother, and too many violent deaths. Under her wise guidance, Tony will probe the family ties that bind him, and he will find in himself the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy equally as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America in which he has been schooled. At each turn in his life there is Ultima who will nurture the birth of his soul.”
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike: “Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcees with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Alexandra, a sculptor, summons thunderstorms; Jane, a cellist, floats on the air; and Sukie, the local gossip columnist, turns milk into cream. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.”
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé: “At the age of seven, Tituba watched as her mother was hanged for daring to wound a plantation owner who tried to rape her. She was raised from then on by Mama Yaya, a gifted woman who shared with her the secrets of healing and magic. But it was Tituba’s love of the slave John Indian that led her from safety into slavery, and the bitter, vengeful religion practiced by the good citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. Though protected by the spirits, Tituba could not escape the lies and accusations of that hysterical time. As history and fantasy merge, Maryse Conde, acclaimed author of Tree of Life and Segu, creates the richly imagined life of a fascinating woman.”
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt: “Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters your homes at will. She stands next to your bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in so doing send the town spiraling into the dark, medieval practices of the past.”
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: “Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives’ stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit’s friendship with the ‘witch’ is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!”
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: “Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right. Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.”
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco: “Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human. Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.”
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman: “For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…”
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: “Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.”
The Witches by Roald Dahl: “This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.”
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett: “Tiffany Aching, a hag from a long line of hags, is trying out her witchy talents again as she is plunged into yet another adventure when she leaves home and is apprenticed to a real witch. This time, will the thieving, fighting and drinking skills of the Nac Mac Feegle the Wee Free Men be of use, or must Tiffany rely on her own abilities?”
The Crucible by Arthur Miller: “Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.”
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: “On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking. And the witching hour begins…Demonstrating once again her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches – a family given to poetry and incest, to murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.”
Captivated by Nora Roberts: “His interest in her was purely professional . . . Or so he told himself. Nash Kirkland had sought out the alluring Morgana Donovan to help him research his latest screenplay, though the hardheaded skeptic didn’t believe for a minute she was what she professed to be. But, as Morgana revealed herself to him, Nash found himself falling under her bewitching spell. Nash had never trusted his feelings and always kept them in check. So how could he be sure the irresistible passion he felt for Morgana was real and not just some conjurer’s trick?”
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy: “Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy, and she’s making an awful mess of it. She’s always getting her spells wrong and she can’t even ride a broomstick without crashing it. Will she ever make a real witch?”
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova: “Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…”
Uprooted by Naomi Novik: “Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.”
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire: “Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil. An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all.”
The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho: “How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of whom we are? That is the central question of international bestselling author Paulo Coelho’s profound new work, The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well—or hardly at all.”
Clara and the Curandera by Monica Brown, illustrated by Thelma Muraida: “‘Once there was a little girl named Clara, who was grumpy.’ She was grumpy about having to take out the trash, having to share her toys with her seven brothers and sisters, and having to read one book a week for school. And Mami is tired of Clara’s grumpy face, so she sends her daughter to the curandera or healer to ask for help. The curandera gives Clara a list of things to do in the coming week: take out her own trash and the neighbors’ as well; give all of her favorite toys to her brothers and sisters; and read five books instead of one! It’s a difficult, busy week for Clara. But, when the week is over, Clara realizes that she has not had time to feel grumpy. Could it be that helping others makes her feel happy?
The Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip: “Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her. When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.”
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: “Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge. As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.”
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi: “In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly – Slipping away from them – And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.”
The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales by Charles W. Chesnutt: “This edition reassembles for the first time all of Chesnutt’s work in the conjure tale genre, the entire imaginative feat of which the published Conjure Woman forms a part. It allows the reader to see how the original volume was created, how an African American author negotiated with the tastes of the dominant literary culture of the late nineteenth century, and how that culture both promoted and delimited his work. In the tradition of Uncle Remus, the conjure tale listens in on a poor black southerner, speaking strong dialect, as he recounts a local incident to a transplanted northerner for the northerner’s enlightenment and edification. But in Chesnutt’s hands the tradition is transformed. No longer a reactionary flight of nostalgia for the antebellum South, the stories in this book celebrate and at the same time question the folk culture they so pungently portray, and ultimately convey the pleasures and anxieties of a world in transition.”
The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown: “Essex, England, With a heavy heart, Alice Hopkins returns to the small town she grew up in. Widowed, with child, and without prospects, she is forced to find refuge at the house of her younger brother, Matthew. In the five years she has been gone, the boy she knew has become a man of influence and wealth–but more has changed than merely his fortunes. Alice fears that even as the cruel burns of a childhood accident still mark his face, something terrible has scarred Matthew’s soul. There is a new darkness in the town, too–frightened whispers are stirring in the streets, and Alice’s blood runs cold with dread when she discovers that Matthew is a ruthless hunter of suspected witches. Torn between devotion to her brother and horror at what he’s become, Alice is desperate to intervene–and deathly afraid of the consequences. But as Matthew’s reign of terror spreads, Alice must choose between her safety and her soul. ”
Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau by Jewell Parker Rhodes: “New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century: a potent mix of whites, Creoles, free blacks, and African slaves, a city pulsing with crowds, commerce, and an undercurrent of secret power. The source of this power is the voodoo religion, and its queen is Marie Laveau, the notorious voodooienne, worshipped and feared by blacks and whites alike.”
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne: “In a sleepy little New England village stands a dark, weather-beaten, many-gabled house. This brooding mansion is haunted by a centuries-old curse that casts the shadow of ancestral sin upon the last four members of the distinctive Pyncheon family of Salem. The greed and haughty pride of the Pyncheon family through the generations is mirrored in the gloomy decay of their seven-gabled mansion, where the family’s enfeebled and impoverished relations now live. Mysterious deaths threaten the living. Musty documents nestle behind hidden panels carrying the secret of the family’s salvation–or its downfall.”
The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston: “In the spring of , the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life. In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers’ market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories—and demons—long thought forgotten.”
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent: “Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha’s courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.”
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson: “The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.”
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: “The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger–a boy who seems to fade like smoke–appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.”
The Good House by Tananarive Due: “The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors…and the Toussaint’s family history — and future — is dramatically transformed. Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey’s death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela’s grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela’s grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have ‘powers,’ put a curse on the entire community?”
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: “Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?”
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: “To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.”
Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Barry Moser: “Virginia Hamilton draws upon her extensive knowledge of folktales in this “scare tale,” in which young James Lee discovers his Uncle Big Anthony has been cursed by a Wee Winnie Witch, who rides him like a broom across the night sky! When the witch captures James Lee and takes him along, Mamma Granny knows just what to do. She fills the Wee Winnie Witch’s skin, which the Wee Winnie removes before her ride, with hot pepper. When it’s back in place, Wee Winnie’s burnt to a crisp!”
The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman: “The year is , and a friar has arrived in Tierkinddorf, a remote German village nestled deeply in the woods. The village has been suffering a famine, and the villagers are desperately hungry. The friar’s arrival is a miracle, and when he claims he can restore the town to prosperity, the men and women gathered to hear him rejoice. The friar has a book called the Malleus Maleficarum—’The Witch’s Hammer’—a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft. The friar promises he will identify the guilty woman who has brought God’s anger upon the town; she will be burned, and bounty will be restored. Tierkinddorf is filled with hope. Neighbors wonder aloud who has cursed them and how quickly can she be found? They begin sharing secrets with the friar. Güde Müller, an elderly woman, has stark and frightening visions—recently she has seen things that defy explanation. None in the village know this, and Güde herself worries that perhaps her mind has begun to wander—certainly she has outlived all but one of her peers in Tierkinddorf. Yet of one thing she is absolutely certain: She has become an object of scorn and a burden to her son’s wife. In these desperate times her daughter-in-law would prefer one less hungry mouth at the family table. As the friar turns his eye on each member of the tiny community, Güde dreads what her daughter-in-law might say to win his favor.”
Outside the Bones by Lyn Di Iorio: “Fina is a big girl with a big mouth. She’s the neighborhood bruja, or spirit worker as she likes to call herself, casting spells for her neighbors in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She can’t believe it, though, when she puts an accidental fufu or spell on Chico, the irresistible trumpet player who lives upstairs. Chico recovers just as two women from his past turn up: his former beauty-queen lover and an attractive young woman claiming to be his long-dead daughter. Fina is not pleased. So she visits her mentor, Tata Victor Tumba Fuego, Master of Fire. He specializes in Palo Monte, the Afro-Caribbean magical art of controlling and manipulating spirits housed in cauldrons. The Ancient One, the oldest spirit working for Victor, wants a blood sacrifice from Fina, something she has managed to avoid. But she needs help, so she’ll do what it takes. All too soon she finds herself involved with a spirit whose quest for revenge can’t be stopped.”
The Red of His Shadow by Mayra Montero: “It is Holy Week, and the Haitian sugar cane harvesters can temporarily forget their misery and lose themselves in the fervor of Voudon. But amidst the colorful festival, a struggle for power, as well as a devastating passion, develops between Mistress ZulE, a Voudon priestess and spiritual leader, and the infamous, bloodthirsty SimilA Bolosse, a rival Voudon priest backed by the tontons macoutes.Based on true events, The Red of His Shadow evokes ferocious love, intense hatred, and the specter of death looming within life. Written in a prose remarkable for its clarity and musicality, the novel manages to be both richly symbolic and intensely physical. Behind a case that Dominican police closed as a simple crime of passion pulses the spell of a war that remains unfinished today.”
The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow: “Jennet Stearne’s father hangs witches for a living in Restoration England. But when she witnesses the unjust and horrifying execution of her beloved aunt Isobel, the precocious child decides to make it her life’s mission to bring down the Parliamentary Witchcraft Act. Armed with little save the power of reason, and determined to see justice prevail, Jennet hurls herself into a series of picaresque adventures traveling from King William’s Britain to the fledgling American Colonies to an uncharted island in the Caribbean, braving West Indies pirates, Algonquin Indian captors, the machinations of the Salem Witch Court, and the sensuous love of a young Ben Franklin. For Jennet cannot and must not rest until she has put the last witchfinder out of business.”
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch, translated by Lee Chadeayne: “Germany, When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum: “Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?”
When the Spirits Dance Mambo by Marta Moreno Vega: “A precocious little girl with wildly curly hair, Marta was the baby of the family and the favorite of her elderly abuela, who lived in the apartment down the hall. Abuela Luisa was the spiritual center of the family, an espiritista who smoked cigars and honored the Afro-Caribbean deities who had always protected their family. But it was Marta’s brother, Chachito, who taught her the latest dance steps and called her from the pay phone at the Palladium at night so she could listen, huddled beneath the bedcovers, to the seductive rhythms of Tito Puente and his orchestra.”
The Graces by Laure Eve: “Everyone said the Graces were witches. They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different. All I had to do was show them that person was me. Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?”
Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt: Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow living in Pendle Forest, is haunted by visions and gains a reputation as a cunning woman. Drawing on the Catholic folk magic of her youth, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future. As she ages, she instructs her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft, as well as her best friend, who ultimately turns to dark magic. When a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witch finder, plays neighbors and family members against one another until suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights.”
Witch Child by Celia Rees: “Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, a world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary’s startling story begins in , the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch. Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared? ”
Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon: “The Carolinas, The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies, and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel’s innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal. After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.”
Erzulie’s Skirt by Ana-Maurine Lara: “Set in the age of urbanization in the Dominican Republic over the course of several lifetimes, Erzulie’s Skirt is a tale of how women and their families struggle with love, tragedy and destiny. Told from the perspectives of three women, Erzulie’s Skirt takes us from rural villages and sugar cane plantations to the poor neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, and through the journey by yola across the sea between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It is a compelling love story that unearths our deep ancestral connections to land, ritual and memory.”
Strange Magic by Syd Moore: “Rosie Strange doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches or magic. No, not at all. It’s no surprise therefore when she inherits the ramshackle Essex Witch Museum, her first thought is to take the money and run. Still, the museum exerts a curious pull over Rosie. There’s the eccentric academic who bustles in to demand she help in a hunt for old bones, those of the notorious Ursula Cadence, a witch long since put to death. And there’s curator Sam Stone, a man about whom Rosie can’t decide if he’s tiresomely annoying or extremely captivating. It all adds up to looking like her plans to sell the museum might need to be delayed, just for a while. Finding herself and Sam embroiled in a most peculiar centuries-old mystery, Rosie is quickly expelled from her comfort zone, where to her horror, the secrets of the past come with their own real, and all too present, danger as a strange magic threatens to envelope them all.”
Calligraphy of the Witch by Alicia Gaspar de Alba: “This riveting historical novel combines the horror of the Salem witch trials with the philosophy and poetry of the nun and writer known as the first feminist of the Americas, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, this novel takes a mesmerizing look at women in the New World in the 17th century and the stubborn men who accuse them for no reason.”
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood: “Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.”
Witches Abroad by Terry Prachett: “Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unforunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince. But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who’ll stop at nothing to achieve a proper “happy ending”—even if it means destroying a kingdom.
The Accidental Santera by Irene Lazo: Gabrielle Segovia, Ph.D., is struggling to build a career as a Latina scientist, cope with her third miscarriage, and resuscitate her marriage to fellow biology professor Benito Cruz. Becoming a santera is not in her plans. But everything changes when her best friend, the feisty Patricia Muñoz, drags her into a French Quarter voodoo shop during a conference in New Orleans. When Gabrielle gets home to the San Francisco Bay Area, the predictions from her on-a-whim reading begin to come true. That’s when she learns she hails from a long line of practitioners of Santeria, the religion created when Yoruba slaves combined their ancient rituals with Catholicism. Out of desperation to become a mother and save both her job and her marriage, Gabrielle turns to Puerto Rican relatives living in Miami she hasn’t seen since she was a child. She finds herself warmly embraced by three generations of Segovia santeras and drawn into their world of séances, sacred drums, and ritual animal sacrifice. Unexpectedly marked for initiation by the gods and goddesses of the Yoruba pantheon, Gabrielle must decide whether she can bring herself to answer the call. And, if she chooses, commit to the seemingly contradictory life of a scientist who is also a santera.”
The Witches of BlackBrook by Tish Thawer: “Through space and time, sisters entwined. Lost then found, souls remain bound. Three sisters escape the Salem witch trials when the eldest casts a spell that hurtles their souls forward through time. After centuries separated, fate has finally reunited them in the present day. One the healer, one the teacher, and one the deceiver. Will their reunion return their full powers, or end their souls journey forever?”
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins: “Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.”
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho: “At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…”
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: “At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent. As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.”
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: “Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.”
Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts: “When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband—and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago… But even in this quiet, peaceful place, Nell never feels entirely at ease. Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore café—and begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd. But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him—for she must continue to guard her secrets if she wants to keep the past at bay. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s created so carefully could shatter completely. Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse—one that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women—and with the nightmares of the past haunting her every step—she must find the power to save her home, her love…and herself…”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis: “‘They say Aslan is on the move. Perhaps he has already landed,’ whispered the Beaver. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delightful strain of music had just floated by. And Lucy got that feeling when you realize it’s the beginning of summer. So, deep in the bewitched land of Narnia, the adventure begins. They opened a door and entered a world–Narnia–the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Lucy is the first to stumble through the back of the enormous wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old country house, discovering the magic world beyond. At first, no one believes her. But soon Edmund, Peter and Susan, too, discover the magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. And in the blink of an eye, they are changed forever.”
Half Bad by Sally Green: “Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?”
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs: Rose Rita Pottinger is dreading summer. With her best friend, Lewis Barnavelt, away at Boy Scout camp, vacation threatens to be altogether boring. But when Mrs. Zimmermann, Lewis’s next door neighbor and a genuine witch, receives a strange deathbed letter from an eccentric uncle, unexpected things start to happen. Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmermann set off on a trip to discover the meaning of the letter. A ransacked farmhouse, a missing ring, shadowy figures appearing in the night, and mysterious magic symbols are just the beginning as they are gradually drawn into a terrifying world of occult mysteries, where Mrs. Zimmermann’s failing powers can’t help them.”
Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough: “Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and on the day she was born, her grandmother proclaimed she would be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now, seventeen years later, she spends most of her time at boarding school in Manhattan, where she can at least pretend to be normal. But during the summers, she’s forced to return home and work at her family’s bookstore/magic shop. One night a handsome young professor from New York University arrives in the shop and mistakes Tamsin for her extremely Talented older sister. For once, it’s Tamsin who’s being looked at with awe and admiration, and before she can stop herself, she agrees to find a family heirloom for him that was lost more than a century ago. But the search – and the stranger – prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the past sins of her family, and unleash a power so strong and so vengeful that it could destroy them all.”
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: “According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in , before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist… “
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison: “All the creatures of the night gather in “the Hollows” of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party… and to feed. Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining – and it’s Rachel Morgan’s job to keep that world civilized. A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she’ll bring ’em back alive, dead… or undead.”
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy: “Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy, and she’s making an awful mess of it. She’s always getting her spells wrong and she can’t even ride a broomstick without crashing it. Will she ever make a real witch?”
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price: “As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around… To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.”
Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson: “Arriman the Awful, feared Wizard of the North, has decided to marry. But his wife must be a witch of the darkest powers… A sorcery competition is held to discover which witch is the most potent and fiendish, and glamorous Madame Olympia conjures up a thousand plague-bearing rats Belladonna, the white witch, desperately wants to be a wicked enchantress, but her magic produces flowers instead of snakes. How can she become more devilish than all the other witches?”
The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo: “There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls…or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone.”
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather: “Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.”
The White Witch of Rosehall by Herbert G. de Lisser: “A very striking and curious story, founded on fact, of the West Indies of the earlty nineteenth century. Robert Rutherford is sent to the Islands to learn the planter’s business from the bottom. He becomes an overseer at Rosehall, the property of a young widow, Mrs Palmer, whose three husbands have all died in curious circumstances. She takes a violent fancy to Rutherford, who is also embarrassed by the attentions of his half-caste housekeeper, Millicent. His housekeeper is urging him, with some sucess, to fall in with West Indian habits, when Mrs Palmer arrives. Millicent defies her and threatens her with the powers of Takoo, an Obeah man. Mrs Palmer, herself skilled in Obeah magic, puts a spell on the girl, which Takoo’s rites, shattered by the white woman’s stronger magic, are powerless to remove.”
The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill: “When Ned and his identical twin brother Tam tumble from their raft into a raging, bewitched river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Sure enough, Ned grows up weak and slow, and stays as much as possible within the safe boundaries of his family’s cottage and yard. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it’s Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community. In the meantime, in another kingdom across the forest that borders Ned’s village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King. She is haunted by her mother’s last words to her: “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his.” But when Áine and Ned’s paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to make their way through the treacherous woods and stop the war about to boil over?
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay: “The year is Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?”
Ilse Witch by Terry Brooks: “When a half-drowned elf is found floating in the seas of the Blue Divide, an old mystery resurfaces. Thirty years ago, an elven prince led an expedition in search of a legendary magic said to be more powerful than any in the world. Of all those who set out on that ill-fated voyage, not one has ever returned. Until now. The rescued elf carries a map covered with mysterious symbols–and Walker Boh, the last of the Druids, has the skill to decipher them. But someone else understands the map’s significance: the Ilse Witch, a ruthless young woman who wields a magic as potent as his own. She will stop at nothing to possess the map–and the magic it leads to.”
Hunting for Spring by Katherine McIntyre: “Hunters are a lonely breed, and Conor’s no exception, until the day he meets Brenna. Even though she slinks in unannounced and kills the wight he was hunting down, the girl’s a mystery and he can’t get that blinding smile or those gorgeous curves off his mind. Since they’re both after the same caster who’s unleashing these monsters, he suggests teaming up, and despite her initial reluctance, the hungry way she scans him down promises something powerful. However, her secrets have repercussions, and faster than Conor can lift his Glock, he’s drawn into the web of kidnappings and Unseelie mischief, all concealing the machinations of a darker foe—one that plans to bring Philly to ruin.”
The Witches of the Glass Castle by Gabriella Lepore: “Mia’s life is thrown through a loop when she discovers her family secret — that she and her brother Dino are witches. After they are sent away to study their craft, they begin down a path that will change their lives forever. Suddenly thrust into a world where handsome warriors command the power of nature and people’s thoughts and actions can be manipulated at will, Mia and Dino struggle to navigate their own allegiances and do what they know to be right when everything around them seems beyond their control.”
Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas, illustrated by Korky Paul: “Winnie lived in her black house with her cat, Wilbur. He was black too. And that is how the trouble began. Everything in Winnies house is black – the carpet, the chairs, the bed and the sheets, the pictures on the walls, and even the bathtub! And of course her cat, Wilbur, is black too – all except for his bright-green eyes. Whenever poor Wilbur closes his eyes and tries to take a catnap, Winnie stumbles right over him. Or accidentally sits on top of him. Until one day, when Winnie gets a brilliant idea. What if Wilbur were a different color?”
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder: “Jessica has read enough books to know that her cat Worm must be a witch’s cat. He’s cast a spell on her, but to whom can she turn? After all, no one will believe that Worm has bewitched her . . . or worse.”
Witch Way by M.A. Marino: “Jessica O’Rourke is learning the dangers that young witches face when dabbling in not-so-good magic for personal gain. All of the women in Jessie’s family are witches. Not the kind of witches that fly on brooms or cast spells with pointed sticks. They’re the kind of witches that Jessie’s mother called practical witches-that is, until she got killed. The worst part about her mother’s death is that her father was the one who did it and now Jessie has to live in a house full of witchy aunts who remind her way too much of how sad she is inside. Jessie’s father has gone missing but she knows he’ll back to take down the rest of her family. After an encounter with a group of girls, who Jessie’s Aunt Abby describes as “bad news,” Jessie finds herself in a heated battle with the warlocks that threaten to destroy her entire bloodline. In time, she unveils an unimaginable secret about herself that will surely alter her future. Jessie has to decide which way she will turn and how she will use her new powers to stop her father from hurting anyone else. Can she prevent herself from becoming evil in the process?”
Myal by Erna Brodber: “Jamaican-born novelist and sociologist Erna Brodber describes Myal as “an exploration of the links between the way of life forged by the people of two points of the black diaspora—the Afro-Americans and the Afro-Jamaicans.” Operating on many literary levels—thematically, linguistically, stylistically—it is the story of women’s cultural and spiritual struggle in colonial Jamaica. The novel opens at the beginning of the 20th century with a community gathering to heal the mysterious illness of a young woman, Ella, who has returned to Jamaica after an unsuccessful marriage abroad. The Afro-Jamaican religion myal, which asserts that good has the power to conquer all, is invoked to heal Ella, who has been left “zombified” and devoid of any black soul. Ella, who is light skinned enough to pass for white, has suffered a breakdown after her white American husband produced a black-face minstrel show based on the stories of her village and childhood. This cultural appropriation is one of a series Ella encountered in her life, and parallels the ongoing theft of the labor and culture of colonized peoples for imperial gain and pleasure.”
Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale: “A short holiday with his mother turns out very differently for Joe than he could have imagined when he left home. Soon he is embroiled in a world of witchcraft, a world where the kind and innocent witches of Britain are facing a wicked foe. Can Joe and his young friend Twiggy put an end to the cunning plot, or will they, like their witchy friends, find the baffling mystery too hard to solve?”
The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri: “Bronwyn ‘BitsyWyn’ Whalen hasn’t set eyes on the red dirt of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, for fourteen years – not since her mama died. But with her brother, Patrick, imprisoned for the murder of her childhood best friend, and her eccentric father, Jackson, at his wits’ end while her eleven-year-old niece, Byrd, runs wild, Bronwyn finds herself once again surrounded by ancient magnolia trees and the troubled family she left behind. She becomes immersed in a whirlwind of mystery and magic as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful night her friend died. And as her bond with Byrd deepens, Bronwyn must face the demons of her past in order to unravel her family’s uncertain future.”
Ravina the Witch? by Junko Mizuno: “Once upon a time, on the coast of a tiny European country, there was an enormous cloud of toxic fumes. In this cloud lived a young girl named Ravina. And she is about to be unleashed on the human world! A bewitching and beautiful tale of an orphan girl who was raised by crows in a trash heap. One day, a dying witch gifts her with a mysterious magic wand and her life changes forever! Now, the human world is hers to play with… Or will this land of fear and corruption prove too much for the fledgling witch? In a time of witch hunts, Ravina must have her wits about her! ”
Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key: “Some terrifying experience has blocked Tony and Tia’s memory of the past. But because they have supernatural powers, they are sure that they come from another world–and that their people still exist somewhere. Then Tony and Tia find that they must escape from men who want to use their special powers for evil. They begin a desperate search to find their true home–which leads them to the strange and mysterious Witch Mountain.”
The Reluctant Witch by A.B. Wolverton: “This life was not what she wanted. Freda wanted to be normal but there was nothing normal about her. Danger was everywhere. Nothing was as it seemed.
A war is brewing, and one girl’s strange powers may be the key to victory in Anna B. Wolverton’s intriguing young adult debut, The Witch Chronicles. After her parents die in a tragic yet suspicious car accident, Freda and her younger brother are sent to live with an uncle whose very existence was unknown to them. Under his guidance, Freda slowly learns the truth behind her mysterious powers—powers that allow her to communicate with animals and leave her body at will while meditating or sleeping. But these shocking revelations are abruptly interrupted by the appearance of Henri, a mysterious stranger with secrets of his own. His mission is to protect Freda from the evil Radan but, despite his vigilance, she is soon kidnapped by a pack of Weredogs and taken to Radan’s lair on Ocracoke Island. In a final fight to the death, Freda will have to find the strength she never knew she had…and powers she never knew existed.”
Witch’s Sister by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: “Lynn and her best friend, Mouse, are positive their neighbor, Mrs. Tuggle, is a witch. And they suspect the old woman is forcing Lynn’s sister, Judith, to join her coven to witches. But Lynn and Mouse can’t prove anything and their parents don’t believe them. the girls are desperate to expose Mrs. Tuggle’s evil nature, especially since her actions are becoming more threatening everyday. Now Lynn’s parents have announced that they’re going away for the weekend, leaving Judith and Mrs. Tuggle in charge. Can the girls outsmart Mrs. Tuggle and save Lynn’s family — or is the dark magic too strong to conquer?”
The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis, illustrated by Jeff Peterson: “At first glance, the small seaside town of Whitby seems quiet and charming, but eight year-old Ben and his older sister Jennet soon learn that things are not always as they seem. Moved about from foster home to foster home, Ben and Jennet hope to make a fresh start in Whitby. But Ben sees thingsand peopleothers cannot. There’s something unusual about Alice Boston, their new guardian. And what is that horrible howling Jennet hears late at night? Something wicked’s brewing in Whitby. Can Ben and Jennet put it to rest? ”
Roots by Kelbian Noel: I don’t consider myself a witch, that’s my parents’ thing. I’ve never really believed in magic either. Sure, I tried it a few times. Fell for the whole “magic happens” thing. But it didn’t happen to me. No amount of rhyming stopped my parents from moving me halfway across the country. Not one spell stopped me from being labeled the town freak. And worst of all, no matter how many times I begged the Universe to bring my twin back, I was ignored. Until now. He’s back all right. And in a magical bind of his own. Not the magic-won’t-work-for-me kind either. In fact, it’s working a little too well. Too dark. Too deep. It turns out our entire family’s magical roots run just as deep and my brother didn’t end up where he is by accident. So I’m going to help him. But magic isn’t really on my side. Nope. Once I finally get the craft under control, I’m expected to abandon the one person in the world who’s closest to me, just to save myself.”
Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez: “The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child. Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift. Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him. In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.”
Reincarnation: The Witch Narratives by Belinda Vasquez Garcia: “Reincarnation continues the story of 17 year-old Salia, a young woman raised to be a witch by her mother and grandmother. Salia struggles with supporting herself with witchcraft. While Salia longs to be ordinary, her friend Marcelina is torn between her Catholic faith and witchcraft allure. When Salia, now a beautiful young woman, catches the eye of the arrogant Samuel Stuwart, who owns all of Madrid, the villagers gossip that she has bewitched him. A fanatical, Catholic secret society holds the village in fear and swears to root out witchcraft like in the days of the Spanish Inquisition.”
Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translated by Lynne E. Riggs, illustrated by Akiko Hayashi: “Kiki is a resourceful, spunky girl who follows her maternal tradition to be a witch. She possesses only one gift of witchcraft — the power to fly. Like all young witches, she sets out at age 12 to find a town of her own. With her ever-present companion Jiji — a cynical and faithful black cat — Kiki departs on her broomstick and arrives at a big town near the ocean. Though nervous at first, she soon sets up a business delivering packages. Kiki meets all kinds of people and has many adventures. She befriends the thief who stole her broomstick and saves the town’s traditional New Year’s marathon with some courageous and timely flying. Throughout, Kiki’s confidence and self-awareness grows as she learns to value her unique talents. And with Kiki’s help, the townspeople realize that everyone has some “magic” that gives them their own special character and vitality.”
A Witch in Time: A Wicked Witches of the Midwest Fantasy by Amanda M. Lee: “A storm is raging in Hemlock Cove, but it’s nothing compared to the one raging in Aunt Tillie’s head. An accident renders Aunt Tillie unconscious in the hospital, and when Bay and Landon fall asleep while sitting vigil, they’re transported to a scary world: Aunt Tillie’s mind. The couple will be shuttled through time–almost eighty years of it – and witness all of the ups and downs of Aunt Tillie’s past.
Have you ever wanted to see Aunt Tillie as a child? You’re in luck. Landon and Bay will get to see more than they ever dreamed of, including weddings, births and even tragic deaths. The trip isn’t all fun and games, because Aunt Tillie is fighting waking up. She’s happier reliving the past than fighting for survival in the present. Bay and Landon have their hands full. They have to live through good times and bad – including hanging out with their own demons – and force Aunt Tillie to choose returning with them rather than staying with the people who own her heart. ”
(Stories from) Wolves and Witches by Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt: “Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers’ daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker–fewer enchanted ball gowns, more iron shoes. Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth.”
(Stories from) Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston: “Set intimately within the social context of black life, this is a collection of stories, “big old lies,” songs, voodoo customs and superstitions passed down through oral tradition.”
The Only Thing Worse Than Witches by Lauren Magaziner: “Rupert Campbell is fascinated by the witches who live nearby. He dreams of broomstick tours and souvenir potions, but Rupert’s mother forbids him from even looking at that part of town. The closest he can get to a witchy experience is sitting in class with his awful teacher Mrs. Frabbleknacker, who smells like bellybutton lint and forbids Rupert’s classmates from talking to each other before, during, and after class. So when he sees an ad to become a witch’s apprentice, Rupert simply can’t resist applying. But Witchling Two isn’t exactly what Rupert expected. With a hankering for lollipops and the magical aptitude of a toad, she needs all the help she can get to pass her exams and become a full-fledged witch. She’s determined to help Rupert stand up to dreadful Mrs. Frabbleknacker too, but the witchling’s magic will be as useful as a clump of seaweed unless Rupert can figure out a way to help her improve her spellcasting—and fast!”
Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister) by Ann M. Martin: “Karen lives next door to an old lady named Mrs. Porter. Mrs. Porter wears long black robes and has wild grey hair. Her black cat is named Midnight. No wonder Karen thinks Mrs. Porter is a witch! Mrs. Porter is having a meeting at her house. Karen is sure the meeting is for witches. Are the witches going to cast a spell on Karen? Or will she be brave enough to send them away – once and for all?”
The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou: “When mortal enemies Veronica and Heather get hit by a bar code scanner while fighting over the last copy of a hot fantasy novel, they are transported into the novel. Having accidentally killed the book’s heroine, Vero and Heather have no choice but to try to save the land of Galma from the Twilight Queen.”
The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town by Amos Tutuola: “After four years of marriage, the brave hunter of the Rocky Town and his beautiful wife, Lola, are still without a child. Equipped with juju, sharpened machete, bow and poisonous arrows, flints and thunderbolts, he sets off in search of the Witch-Herbalist’s medicine. For six years he journeys, conquering or escaping from such haunting characters as the Abnormal Squatting Man of the Jungle and the Crazy Removable-Headed Wild Man. Finally he reaches the Remote Town of the Witch-Mother and is given medicine for his wife, but on the way home he makes a decision with interesting consequences.”
Witch Wood by John Buchan: “As a moderate presbyterian minister, young David Sempill disputes with the extremists of his faith, as all around, the defeated remnants of Montrose’s men are being harried and slaughtered. There are still older conflicts to be faced however, symbolised by the presence of the Melanudrigall Wood, a last remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest. Here there is black magic to be uncovered, but also the more positive pre-Christian intimations of nature worship.”
Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda: “From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them. Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team. But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California. Together they’re ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that’s what witch hunters do. Welcome to Hollywood.”
What are your favorite books about witches?
Book of magic spells, invocations and talismans
This article is about books of magic. For the operating system term, see Source Mage GNU/Linux. For the video game, see Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar.
- Spellbook redirects here.
A grimoire (grim-WAHR) (also known as a "book of spells" or a "spellbook") is a textbook of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination, and how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, deities, and demons. In many cases, the books themselves are believed to be imbued with magical powers, although in many cultures, other sacred texts that are not grimoires (such as the Bible) have been believed to have supernatural properties intrinsically. The only contents found in a grimoire would be information on spells, rituals, the preparation of magical tools, and lists of ingredients and their magical correspondences.[unreliable source?] In this manner, while all books on magic could be thought of as grimoires, not all magical books should be thought of as grimoires.
While the term grimoire is originally European—and many Europeans throughout history, particularly ceremonial magicians and cunning folk, have used grimoires—the historian Owen Davies noted that similar books can be found all across the world, ranging from Jamaica to Sumatra. He also noted that in this sense, the world's first grimoires were created in Europe and the Ancient Near East.
It is most commonly believed that the term grimoire originated from the Old French word grammaire, which had initially been used to refer to all books written in Latin. By the 18th century, the term had gained its now common usage in France, and had begun to be used to refer purely to books of magic. Owen Davies presumed this was because "many of them continued to circulate in Latin manuscripts".
However, the term grimoire later developed into a figure of speech amongst the French indicating something that was hard to understand. In the 19th century, with the increasing interest in occultism amongst the British following the publication of Francis Barrett'sThe Magus (), the term entered the English language in reference to books of magic.
The earliest known written magical incantations come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where they have been found inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets that archaeologists excavated from the city of Uruk and dated to between the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The ancient Egyptians also employed magical incantations, which have been found inscribed on amulets and other items. The Egyptian magical system, known as heka, was greatly altered and expanded after the Macedonians, led by Alexander the Great, invaded Egypt in BC.
Under the next three centuries of Hellenistic Egypt, the Coptic writing system evolved, and the Library of Alexandria was opened. This likely had an influence upon books of magic, with the trend on known incantations switching from simple health and protection charms to more specific things, such as financial success and sexual fulfillment. Around this time the legendary figure of Hermes Trismegistus developed as a conflation of the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek Hermes; this figure was associated with writing and magic and, therefore, of books on magic.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that books on magic were invented by the Persians. The 1st-century AD writer Pliny the Elder stated that magic had been first discovered by the ancient philosopher Zoroaster around the year BC but that it was only written down in the 5th century BC by the magician Osthanes. His claims are not, however, supported by modern historians.
The ancient Jewish people were often viewed as being knowledgeable in magic, which, according to legend, they had learned from Moses, who had learned it in Egypt. Among many ancient writers, Moses was seen as an Egyptian rather than a Jew. Two manuscripts likely dating to the 4th century, both of which purport to be the legendary eighth Book of Moses (the first five being the initial books in the Biblical Old Testament), present him as a polytheist who explained how to conjure gods and subdue demons.
Meanwhile, there is definite evidence of grimoires being used by certain, particularly Gnostic, sects of early Christianity. In the Book of Enoch found within the Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, there is information on astrology and the angels. In possible connection with the Book of Enoch, the idea of Enoch and his great-grandson Noah having some involvement with books of magic given to them by angels continued through to the medieval period.
"Many of those [in Ephesus] who believed [in Christianity] now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power."
Acts 19, c. 1st century
Israelite King Solomon was a Biblical figure associated with magic and sorcery in the ancient world. The 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian Josephus mentioned a book circulating under the name of Solomon that contained incantations for summoning demons and described how a Jew called Eleazar used it to cure cases of possession. The book may have been the Testament of Solomon but was more probably a different work. The pseudepigraphicTestament of Solomon is one of the oldest magical texts. It is a Greek manuscript attributed to Solomon and likely written in either Babylonia or Egypt sometime in the first five centuries AD, over 1, years after Solomon's death.
The work tells of the building of The Temple and relates that construction was hampered by demons until the angel Michael gave the king a magical ring. The ring, engraved with the Seal of Solomon, had the power to bind demons from doing harm. Solomon used it to lock demons in jars and commanded others to do his bidding, although eventually, according to the Testament, he was tempted into worshiping "false gods", such as Moloch, Baal, and Rapha. Subsequently, after losing favour with God, King Solomon wrote the work as a warning and a guide to the reader.
When Christianity became the dominant faith of the Roman Empire, the early Church frowned upon the propagation of books on magic, connecting it with paganism, and burned books of magic. The New Testament records that after the unsuccessful exorcism by the seven sons of Sceva became known, many converts decided to burn their own magic and pagan books in the city of Ephesus; this advice was adopted on a large scale after the Christian ascent to power.
In the Medieval period, the production of grimoires continued in Christendom, as well as amongst Jews and the followers of the newly founded Islamic faith. As the historian Owen Davies noted, "while the [Christian] Church was ultimately successful in defeating pagan worship it never managed to demarcate clearly and maintain a line of practice between religious devotion and magic." The use of such books on magic continued. In Christianised Europe, the Church divided books of magic into two kinds: those that dealt with "natural magic" and those that dealt in "demonic magic".
The former was acceptable because it was viewed as merely taking note of the powers in nature that were created by God; for instance, the Anglo-Saxon leechbooks, which contained simple spells for medicinal purposes, were tolerated. Demonic magic was not acceptable, because it was believed that such magic did not come from God, but from the Devil and his demons. These grimoires dealt in such topics as necromancy, divination and demonology. Despite this, "there is ample evidence that the mediaeval clergy were the main practitioners of magic and therefore the owners, transcribers, and circulators of grimoires," while several grimoires were attributed to Popes.
One such Arabic grimoire devoted to astral magic, the 12th-century Ghâyat al-Hakîm fi'l-sihr, was later translated into Latin and circulated in Europe during the 13th century under the name of the Picatrix. However, not all such grimoires of this era were based upon Arabic sources. The 13th-century Sworn Book of Honorius, for instance, was (like the ancient Testament of Solomon before it) largely based on the supposed teachings of the Biblical king Solomon and included ideas such as prayers and a ritual circle, with the mystical purpose of having visions of God, Hell, and Purgatory and gaining much wisdom and knowledge as a result. Another was the Hebrew Sefer Raziel Ha-Malakh, translated in Europe as the Liber Razielis Archangeli.
A later book also claiming to have been written by Solomon was originally written in Greek during the 15th century, where it was known as the Magical Treatise of Solomon or the Little Key of the Whole Art of Hygromancy, Found by Several Craftsmen and by the Holy Prophet Solomon. In the 16th century, this work had been translated into Latin and Italian, being renamed the Clavicula Salomonis, or the Key of Solomon.
In Christendom during the medieval age, grimoires were written that were attributed to other ancient figures, thereby supposedly giving them a sense of authenticity because of their antiquity. The German abbot and occultist Trithemius (–) supposedly had a Book of Simon the Magician, based upon the New Testament figure of Simon Magus. Simon Magus had been a contemporary of Jesus Christ's and, like the Biblical Jesus, had supposedly performed miracles, but had been demonized by the Medieval Church as a devil worshiper and evil individual.
Similarly, it was commonly believed by medieval people that other ancient figures, such as the poet Virgil, astronomer Ptolemy and philosopher Aristotle, had been involved in magic, and grimoires claiming to have been written by them were circulated. However, there were those who did not believe this; for instance, the Franciscan friar Roger Bacon (c.–94) stated that books falsely claiming to be by ancient authors "ought to be prohibited by law."
Early modern period
As the early modern period commenced in the late 15th century, many changes began to shock Europe that would have an effect on the production of grimoires. Historian Owen Davies classed the most important of these as the Protestant Reformation and subsequent Catholic Counter-Reformation, the witch-hunts and the advent of printing. The Renaissance saw the continuation of interest in magic that had been found in the Mediaeval period, and in this period, there was an increased interest in Hermeticism among occultists and ceremonial magicians in Europe, largely fueled by the translation of the ancient Corpus hermeticum into Latin by Marsilio Ficino (–99).
Alongside this, there was a rise in interest in the Jewish mysticism known as the Kabbalah, which was spread across the continent by Pico della Mirandola and Johannes Reuchlin. The most important magician of the Renaissance was Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (–), who widely studied occult topics and earlier grimoires and eventually published his own, the Three Books of Occult Philosophy, in  A similar figure was the Swiss magician known as Paracelsus (–), who published Of the Supreme Mysteries of Nature, in which he emphasised the distinction between good and bad magic. A third such individual was Johann Georg Faust, upon whom several pieces of later literature were written, such as Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, that portrayed him as consulting with demons.
The idea of demonology had remained strong in the Renaissance, and several demonological grimoires were published, including The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, which falsely claimed to having been authored by Agrippa, and the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, which listed 69 demons. To counter this, the Roman Catholic Church authorised the production of many works of exorcism, the rituals of which were often very similar to those of demonic conjuration. Alongside these demonological works, grimoires on natural magic continued to be produced, including Magia naturalis, written by Giambattista Della Porta (–).
Iceland held magical traditions in regional work as well, most remarkably the Galdrabók where numerous symbols of mystic origin are dedicated to the practitioner. These pieces give a perfect fusion of Germanic pagan and Christian influence, seeking splendid help from the Norse gods and referring to the titles of demons.
The advent of printing in Europe meant that books could be mass-produced for the first time and could reach an ever-growing literate audience. Among the earliest books to be printed were magical texts. The nóminas were one example, consisting of prayers to the saints used as talismans. It was particularly in Protestant countries, such as Switzerland and the German states, which were not under the domination of the Roman Catholic Church, where such grimoires were published.
Despite the advent of print, however, handwritten grimoires remained highly valued, as they were believed to contain inherent magical powers, and they continued to be produced. With increasing availability, people lower down the social scale and women began to have access to books on magic; this was often incorporated into the popular folk magic of the average people and, in particular, that of the cunning folk, who were professionally involved in folk magic. These works left Europe and were imported to the parts of Latin America controlled by the Spanish and Portuguese empires and the parts of North America controlled by the British and French empires.
Throughout this period, the Inquisition, a Roman Catholic organisation, had organised the mass suppression of peoples and beliefs that they considered heretical. In many cases, grimoires were found in the heretics' possessions and destroyed. In , the church published the Indexes of Prohibited Books, in which many grimoires were listed as forbidden, including several mediaeval ones, such as the Key of Solomon, which were still popular.
In Christendom, there also began to develop a widespread fear of witchcraft, which was believed to be Satanic in nature. The subsequent hysteria, known as the Witch Hunt, caused the death of around 40, people, most of whom were women. Sometimes, those found with grimoires, particularly demonological ones, were prosecuted and dealt with as witches but, in most cases, those accused had no access to such books. Highly literate Iceland proved an exception to this, where a third of the witch trials held involved people who had owned grimoires. By the end of the Early Modern period and the beginning of the Enlightenment, many European governments brought in laws prohibiting many superstitious beliefs in an attempt to bring an end to the Witch Hunt; this would invariably affect the release of grimoires.
Meanwhile, Hermeticism and the Kabbalah would influence the creation of a mystical philosophy known as Rosicrucianism, which first appeared in the early 17th century, when two pamphlets detailing the existence of the mysterious Rosicrucian group were published in Germany. These claimed that Rosicrucianism had originated with a Medieval figure known as Christian Rosenkreuz, who had founded the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross; however, there was no evidence for the existence of Rosenkreuz or the Brotherhood.
18th and 19th centuries
The 18th century saw the rise of the Enlightenment, a movement devoted to science and rationalism, predominantly amongst the ruling classes. However, amongst much of Europe, belief in magic and witchcraft persisted, as did the witch trials in certain[which?] areas. Governments tried to crack down on magicians and fortune tellers, particularly in France, where the police viewed them as social pests who took money from the gullible, often in a search for treasure. In doing so, they confiscated many grimoires.
A new form of printing developed in France, the Bibliothèque bleue. Many grimoires published through this circulated among an ever-growing percentage of the populace, in particular the Grand Albert, the Petit Albert (), the Grimoire du Pape Honorius and the Enchiridion Leonis Papae. The Petit Albert contained a wide variety of forms of magic, for instance, dealing in simple charms for ailments along with more complex things such as the instructions for making a Hand of Glory.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, following the French Revolution of , a hugely influential grimoire was published under the title of the Grand Grimoire, which was considered[by whom?] particularly powerful, because it involved conjuring and making a pact with the devil's chief minister, Lucifugé Rofocale, to gain wealth from him. A new version of this grimoire was later published under the title of the Dragon rouge and was available for sale in many Parisian bookstores. Similar books published in France at the time included the Black Pullet and the Grimoirium Verum. The Black Pullet, probably authored in lateth-century Rome or France, differs from the typical grimoires in that it does not claim to be a manuscript from antiquity but told by a man who was a member of Napoleon's armed expeditionary forces in Egypt.
The widespread availability of printed grimoires in France—despite the opposition of both the rationalists and the church—soon[when?] spread to neighbouring countries such as Spain and Germany. In Switzerland, Geneva was commonly associated with the occult at the time, particularly by Catholics, because it had been a stronghold of Protestantism. Many of those interested in the esoteric traveled from Roman Catholic nations to Switzerland to purchase grimoires or to study with occultists. Soon, grimoires appeared that involved Catholic saints; one example that appeared during the 19th century that became relatively popular, particularly in Spain, was the Libro de San Cipriano, or The Book of St. Ciprian, which falsely claimed to date from c. Like most grimoires of this period, it dealt with (among other things) how to discover treasure.
In Germany, with the increased interest in folklore during the 19th century, many historians took an interest in magic and in grimoires. Several published extracts of such grimoires in their own books on the history of magic, thereby helping to further propagate them. Perhaps the most notable of these was the Protestant pastor Georg Conrad Horst (–), who from to , published a six-volume collection of magical texts in which he studied grimoires as a peculiarity of the Mediaeval mindset.
Another scholar of the time interested in grimoires, the antiquarian bookseller Johann Scheible, first published the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, two influential magical texts that claimed to have been written by the ancient Jewish figure Moses.The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses were among the works that later spread to the countries of Scandinavia, where, in Danish and Swedish, grimoires were known as black books and were commonly found among members of the army.
In Britain, new grimoires continued to be produced throughout the 18th century, such as Ebenezer Sibly's A New and Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology. In the last decades of that century, London experienced a revival of interest in the occult that was further propagated when Francis Barrett published The Magus in The Magus contained many things taken from older grimoires, particularly those of Cornelius Agrippa, and while not achieving initial popularity upon release, gradually became an influential text.
One of Barrett's pupils, John Parkin, created his own handwritten grimoire, The Grand Oracle of Heaven, or, The Art of Divine Magic, although it was never published, largely because Britain was at war with France, and grimoires were commonly associated with the French. The only writer to publish British grimoires widely in the early 19th century, Robert Cross Smith, released The Philosophical Merlin () and The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century (), but neither sold well.
In the late 19th century, several of these texts (including The Book of Abramelin and the Key of Solomon) were reclaimed by para-Masonic magical organisations, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis.
20th and 21st centuries
The Secret Grimoire of Turiel claims to have been written in the 16th century, but no copy older than has been produced.
A modern grimoire, the Simon Necronomicon, takes its name from a fictional book of magic in the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, inspired by Babylonian mythology and by the "Ars Goetia", a section in the Lesser Key of Solomon that concerns the summoning of demons. The Azoëtia of Andrew D. Chumbley has been described by Gavin Semple as a modern grimoire.
The neopagan religion of Wicca publicly appeared in the s, and Gerald Gardner introduced the Book of Shadows as a Wiccan grimoire.
The term grimoire commonly serves as an alternative name for a spell book or tome of magical knowledge in fantasy fiction and role-playing games. The most famous fictional grimoire is the Necronomicon, a creation of H.P. Lovecraft.
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|Look up grimoire in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Owen Davies's top 10 grimoires
Owen Davies, professor of social history at the University of Hertfordshire, has written extensively about the history of magic, witchcraft and ghosts. Last month Oxford University Press published his most recent work, Grimoires, the first ever history of the books of spells whose origins were first recorded in the ancient Middle East.
Buy Grimoires: A History of Magic Books at the Guardian bookshop
"Grimoires are books that contain a mix of spells, conjurations, natural secrets and ancient wisdom. Their origins date back to the dawn of writing and their subsequent history is entwined with that of the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the development of science, the cultural influence of print, and the social impact of European colonialism."
1. The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
Although one of the more recent grimoires, first circulating in manuscript in the 18th century, this has to be number one for the breadth of its influence. From Germany it spread to America via the Pennsylvania Dutch, and once in cheap print was subsequently adopted by African Americans. With its pseudo-Hebraic mystical symbols, spirit conjurations and psalms, this book of the secret wisdom of Moses was a founding text of Rastafarianism and various religious movements in west Africa, as well as a cause célèbre in post-war Germany.
2. The Clavicule of Solomon
This is the granddaddy of grimoires. Mystical books purporting to be written by King Solomon were already circulating in the eastern Mediterranean during the first few centuries AD. By the 15th century hundreds of copies were in the hands of Western scientists and clergymen. While some denounced these Solomonic texts as heretical, many clergymen secretly pored over them. Some had lofty ambitions to obtain wisdom from the "wisest of the wise", while others sought to enrich themselves by discovering treasures and vanquishing the spirits that guarded them.
3. Petit Albert
The "Little Albert" symbolises the huge cultural impact of the cheap print revolution of the early 18th century. The flood gates of magical knowledge were opened during the so-called Enlightenment and the Petit Albert became a name to conjure with across France and its overseas colonies. As well as practical household tips it included spells to catch fish, charms for healing, and instructions on how to make a Hand of Glory, which would render one invisible.
4. The Book of St Cyprian
Grimoires purporting to have been written by a legendary St Cyprian (there was a real St Cyprian as well) became popular in Scandinavia during the late 18th century, while in Spain and Portugal print editions of the Libro de San Cipriano included a gazetteer to treasure sites and the magical means to obtain their hidden riches. During the early 20th century, editions began to appear in South America, and copies can now be purchased from the streets of Mexico City to herbalist stalls high in the Andes.
5. Dragon rouge
Like the Petit Albert, the Red Dragon was another product of the French cheap grimoire boom of the 18th century. Although first published in the following century, it was basically a version of the Grand grimoire, an earlier magic book which was infamous for including an invocation of the Devil and his lieutenants. The Dragon rouge circulated far more widely though, and is well known today in former and current French colonies in the Caribbean.
6. The Book of Honorius
Books attributed to Honorius of Thebes were second only to those of Solomon in notoriety in the medieval period. In keeping with a strong theme in grimoire history, there is no evidence that an arch magician named Honorius lived in antiquity - as manuscripts ascribed to him stated. Through prayers and invocations, books of Honorius gave instructions on how to receive visions of God, Hell and purgatory, and knowledge of all science. Very handy.
7. The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy
Cornelius Agrippa was one of the most influential occult philosophers of the 16th century. He certainly wrote three books on the occult sciences, but he had nothing to do with the Fourth Book which appeared shortly after his death. This book of spirit conjuration blackened the name of Agrippa at a time when the witch trials were being stoked across Europe.
8. The Magus
Published in and written by the British occultist and disaster-prone balloonist Francis Barrett, The Magus was a re-statement of 17th-century occult science, and borrowed heavily from an English edition of the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. It was a flop at the time but its influence was subsequently considerable on the occult revival of the late 19th century and contemporary magical traditions. In the early 20th century a plagiarised version produced by an American occult entrepreneur and entitled The Great Book of Magical Art, Hindu Magic and East Indian Occultism became much sought after in the US and the Caribbean.
9. The Necronomicon
A figment of the ingenious imagination of the influential early 20th-century writer of horror and fantasy HP Lovecraft, this mysterious book of secret wisdom was penned in the eighth century by a mad Yemeni poet. Despite being a literary fiction, several "real" Necronomicons have been published over the decades, and today it has as much a right to be considered a grimoire as the other entries in this Top
Book of Shadows
Last but not least there is the founding text of modern Wicca – a pagan religion founded in the s by the retired civil servant, folklorist, freemason and occultist Gerald Gardner. He claimed to have received a copy of this "ancient" magical text from a secret coven of witches, one of the last of a line of worshippers of an ancient fertility religion, which he and his followers believed had survived centuries of persecution by Christian authorities. Through its mention in such popular occult television dramas as Charmed, it has achieved considerable cultural recognition.
Over at Planet Algol was some talk about making spell books and other magical tomes unique. I decided to put together a name generator for such books.
Random Magic Book Name Generator
Roll 1d61. Roll once on columns 2 & 3
2. Roll once on columns 2, 3, & 4
3. Roll once on columns 2, 3, 4, & 5
4. Roll once on columns 1, 2, 4, & 5
5. Roll once on columns 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
6. Roll once on columns 4 & 5
Testing it out I got these results:
Wonderful Librium Hallowed Lunisolar Magic
Manuscript Hallowed Palladian
Magnificent Manuscript Dangerous Astrology
Scroll Boundless Inscrutable Rituals
Treatise Masters Mystagogical Spells
Olde Vade Mecum Scioptic Whitchcraft
Poisonous Compendium Resplendant Magus
Book Eldritch Whispering
Tweaking that a bit the list becomes:
The Wonderful Librium of Hallowed Lunisolar Magic
Palladian's Hallowed Manuscript
A Dangerous Manuscript of Magnificent Astrology
Inscrutable Scroll & Boundless Rituals
Master's Treatise on Mystagogical Spells
Scioptic Whitchcraft from the Olde Vade Mecum
Tablets of the Obscene
Poisonous Compendium of the Resplendant Magus
Book of Eldritch Whispering
Book names witch
But instead of obediently taking it in her mouth, Masha suddenly emerged from under my arm, turned to me and grabbed my organ in a. Handful. In general, I noticed this manner in her. When she wanted to talk to me about something serious, important for her, she brought her face closer to mine, looked me straight.Good Book Titles: The Good, the bad and the Ugly
Said Liza, barely rising behind me. - Go, Ill come to you now, only Ill free your ass from something. - looking at me, said Lena. Lisa and I went downstairs and went to the kitchen.
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Every muscle in her body was strained to the limit, and her bladder literally screamed for help. When there were only four minutes left, Jenny began to walk quickly around the room, sometimes squatting or bouncing. She removed her hands from her crotch and squeezed her ass with them.
She was losing, she just couldn't take it any longer.